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Lipase: The Critical Balance of Fat in Your Diet

Fats (lipids) are one of the three major food groups needed for proper nutrition. Lipase is the digestive enzyme needed to digest fat.

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Lipase is an enzyme that hydrolyzes lipids, the ester bonds in triglycerides, to form fatty acids and glycerol. While too much fat in our diet can cause severe health conditions including heart disease and cancer, some fat is absolutely required. All cell membranes and other structures are made up of lipids, thus an adequate supply of essential fatty acids in the diet are important to ensure viable cells. Most health care professionals suggest that your daily caloric intake should not include more than 30% of fat calories. Many say no more than 20%.

As important as limiting your fat intake, it is equally or more important to ensure that you properly digest the fat you do eat. If fats (lipids) are not properly broken down before they are absorbed, some health consequences may occur.

Incomplete digestion of fat allows fat to coat food particles and therefore interferes with the break down of other food components such as protein and carbohydrates.  Normal digestion of dietary fat is accomplished by lipases with the assistance of bile, which is produced by the liver and normally supplied by way of the gallbladder.  The function of bile is to bring ingested fats into emulsion to facilitate the work of the lipases. 

The Importance of Lipase

Fats require special digestive action before absorption because the end products must be carried in a water medium (blood and lymph) in which fats are not soluble. Lipase is the primary digestant used to split fats into fatty acids and glycerol. Although little actual fat digestion occurs in the stomach, gastric lipase does digest already emulsified fats such as in egg yolk and cream.

Emulsification is the real key to the proper digestion of fats. The large fat molecule presents comparatively small surfaces for the lipase to work on, so the process of emulsification by the action of bile produced by the liver is necessary. Bile breaks down the large fat molecule to tiny droplets which provide lipase with an enormously increased surface to work on. This action takes place in the small intestine and the lipase involved here is a part of the pancreatic secretion.

Lipase supplements can help control appetite and support healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels*

Why removing your gall bladder affects fat digestion: The Role of Bile

When a diet is vegetarian, low in protein or high in refined carbohydrates, little bile can be produced by the gall bladder. If the amount of bile is insufficient or the gall bladder is not made to empty itself, or the liver is not stimulated to produce bile, fats remain in such large particles that enzymes cannot combine readily with them; hence fat digestion is incomplete and fat absorption markedly reduced. This is also why people who have had their gall bladders removed often have difficulty digeting fats.

How Lipase Deficiency Can Affect Our Health:

  • Since lipase digests fat and fat-soluble vitamins, lipase deficient people may have a tendency towards high cholesterol, high triglycerides, difficulty losing weight and diabetes or a tendency towards glucosuria (sugar in the urine without symptoms of diabetes).
  • Because lipase requires the coenzyme, chloride, lipase deficient people have a tendency towards hyphochlorhydria (low chlorides in our electrolyte balance). This can be easily remedied with lipase, but often nutritionists recommend using betaine HCL, which may place an acidic stress on the blood, leading to an inability to provide the alkalinity required to activate the body's pancreatic enzymes. Lipase requires a high pH for its activation among food enzymes. That is why fats are the most difficult of all foods to digest.
  • Fat intolerant people can be helped by taking a lipase supplement, but the fat intolerance problem still exists. The lipase will help prevent an aggravated condition ONLY if the fat intolerant person minimizes fat consumption.
  • Lipase deficient people have decreased cell permeability, meaning nutrients cannot get in and the waste cannot get out. Lipase modulates cell permeability so that nutrients can enter and wastes exit. Waste-eating enzymes (such as protease) may also be taken to help cleanse the blood of the unwanted debris.
  • A common symptom of lipase deficiency is muscle spasms. This is not the "muscle cramp" (tetany) resulting from low ionized blood calcium. It commonly occurs as trigger point pain in the muscles across the upper shoulders, but it can occur in other muscles, such as those in the neck or anywhere in the small or large intestines including the muscles of the rectal tissues.
  • People with "spastic colon" may be lipase deficient. They are often given toxic muscle relaxant drugs to control the symptoms, but a simple food enzyme called lipase may provide relief.

For information on how proteins are digested, see Protease.

For information on how carbohydrates are digested, see Amylase.

New to Digestive Enzymes?

Read why taking Digestive Enzyme Supplements is so important for optimum health!

Want to know more about Digestive Enzymes? See our Enzyme FAQs.

Wondering which digestive enzymes to take? See our full list of suggestions!

Try one of these top sellers for a full blend (lipase, protease, amylase, lactase and more) of all the digestive enzymes needed to maximize your digestion!

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* Statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Products not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

The information contained here is for reference only and is not intended to diagnose disease or prescribe treatment. The information contained herein is in no way to be considered a substitute for consultation with a health care professional. Furthermore, this information is for the private use of our clients and is not to be used publicly, reproduced, or distributed without the written consent of Enzyme Essentials, LLC

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